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The sun is out, which means the LC and  the JC are just around the corner. Soon the churches will be filled with candles lit by Grannies whilst Mammies stuff their offspring with endless cups of tea and toasted sandwiches.

Its stressful, there’s no getting around that. We know how it feels to be afraid to go asleep, in case all your knowledge falls out of your head while you rest. We know how it feels to feel guilt every time you take a break to get some fresh air, eat, or even shower. An these few weeks feel so long, because lets face it, you’re over it, and just want to get it done.

The exams process involves not one, but two skills. The first is obviously learning all the information. The second, which is often forgotten, involves getting all the required information down on the paper, managing your time, structuring your answers and knowing those little touches that will get you extra points. So many of us spend 1 and a half hours writing the worlds most amazing essay question, forgetting that its only worth 30% and we’ve only left 30 minutes to answer everything else.

Here’s all the advice, hints and tips we can think of to help you….

  1. Make your study space pretty. Before you even start, organise your desk, put anything you don’t need away, open a window, let in some sunlight. If you can, treat yourself to a really nice pen, who doesn’t love a really nice pen??? This sounds silly, but it does make a difference.

Image result for organised desk2. Use mind maps. Things you can see visually are more likely to stay in your head. Use trigger words or phrases that, once you see them, remind you of the content. Make them as colourful as possible, again so your brain registers them easier. If you can condense the material down to 7 or 8 mind-maps, that you can reproduce without too much stress, you’re laughing. Read more about how to use mind-maps here.

3. Talk to yourself. Repeat your answers to yourself out loud, and even stick a tune to a random song to it if it helps you remember. You can also record it and listen back to it when you’re away from your desk. Bit cringe and morto but hey, whatever gets you through amiirite?

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4. Make a study playlist. Some people find it hard to concentrate in complete silence, and music with lyrics is distracting. Time to get on board with classical music. It not only helps you concentrate but also helps with stress. Spotify and Youtube have thousands of “study playlists” but we recommend you start with “The Piano” soundtrack or maybe some Ludovico Einaudi.

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5. Don’t cut out physical activity. Whatever your go to stress reliever is, keep it up. You need it now, more than ever. Six hours of study with a two hour break in between for a walk, a run, or a kickabout, is way more effective than 8 hours straight study. Your brain probably checked out hours ago, time to move. Youtube some yoga moves, stretch those legs.

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6. Listen to your brain. It will reach saturation point at some stage, and no matter how much you try to force it, it won’t respond. Take a nap, go chat with your Ma, make a sandwich, walk to the shop and buy a Curly Wurly. 30 minutes will do, and you’re good to go again.

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7. On exam day, have a good breakfast. You burn more energy when you’re stressed, so don’t leave the house hungry or thirsty. Go ahead, have a rasher sandwich and an oj.

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8. An obvious one, but take 5 minutes to read the paper, divide up your time for each section, and allow 10 minutes at the end to review. When your time for each piece is up, move on and and come back to it if you can at the end. If you run out of time, throw a few bullet points in at the end, they may mean the difference between two grades.

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From all of us here at Shona, Best of luck and remember,